Lok Sabha elections | Parties bank on an alliance arithmetic in a triangular contest in Chidambaram

April 10, 2024 12:28 am | Updated 04:32 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Sri Sabanayagar Temple, popularly known as Sri Natarajar Temple at Chidambaram in Cuddalore district. File

A view of the Sri Sabanayagar Temple, popularly known as Sri Natarajar Temple at Chidambaram in Cuddalore district. File | Photo Credit: S.S. Kumar

A month ago, when the formation of an alliance in the State was still fluid, it was unclear whether VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan could contest from the Chidambaram Lok Sabha constituency seat again.

In 2019, he only scraped through with a margin of 3,219 votes. But now, with the PMK exiting the AIADMK alliance and joining the BJP-led NDA he is eyeing a comfortable win with the backing of the DMK-led INDIA, and score another victory from here. “Last time, the victory margin came down because we faced a mega alliance, comprising the AIADMK, the BJP and the PMK. This time, the arithmetic of alliance favours us,” said Mr. Thirumavalavan.

Besides the strength of the DMK alliance, welfare schemes implemented by the Tamil Nadu government, especially for women, the anti-incumbency factor against the Central government and the Bharat Joda Yatra undertaken by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had strengthened his candidature, he said, adding: “Also, last time, we could get the symbol only at the last minute and it took time to popularise the symbol among voters...”

While Mr. Thirumavalavan seeks to consolidate Dalits’ votes, who have a substantial presence in the constituency, the principal Opposition party, the AIADMK, is luring Vanniyars, claiming that it was their party that secured 10.5% internal quota for the community in government jobs and educational institutions, though it had been quashed by the Supreme Court. “Our leader Edappadi K. Palaniswami introduced the reservation (within the MBC quota). If we get elected, we will consult legal experts and ensure that the reservation is restored for the community,” said AIADMK candidate M. Chandrahasan, who was also the chairman of Senthurai Panchayat Union.

He said that Chidambaram had benefited whenever the AIADMK candidates had won from the seat. “The Passport Seva Kendra was launched in the head post office of Chidambaram when the constituency was represented by AIADMK member M. Chandrakasi between 2014 and 2019. We ensured that six trains stop at Chidambaram,” Mr. Chandrahasan said, adding that the deteriorating “law and order” and “easy availability of drugs” were making the DMK government unpopular. K. Radha, a member of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, said farmers could not get crop insurance during the AIADMK regime and it had become a big task to get it.

D. Devaraja, secretary of the Sivapuri branch unit of the DMDK, an ally of the AIADMK, said it would have been a walk through had the PMK been a part of the alliance as well. The AIADMK, however, feels that the presence of SDPI in the alliance would help them secure Muslim votes.

The BJP has fielded P. Karthiyayini, a former AIADMK leader who was also the Mayor of Vellore Municipal Corporation, before defecting to the BJP in 2017. Her candidature was also a surprise since the PMK eyed the constituency. However, the party is dependent on the PMK to poll the votes in this constituency.

“When the DMK came to power, there was a lot of expectation from Chief Minister M.K. Stalin. But he failed to deliver. The poor have benefited from the policies of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. Doubts were raised when e-transfer of money was introduced. Today, even a small vendor in a remote corner of a village is able to use it effectively,” said Gopinath Ganesan, vice-president of the BJP.

Mr. Ganesan also alleged that Mr Thirumavalvan was inaccessible to the local people and there was not even an office for the MP in the constituency. “Chidambaram is a land of Nandanar, Swami Sahajananda and Congress leader L. Ilayaperumal, all Dalits who remained a bridge between their community and other sections of the society. But you cannot say that about Mr Thirumavalavan,” he said.

When asked if the Vanniyar quota would work in favour of the AIADMK government, he said it was PMK founder S. Ramadoss who persuaded the AIADMK government to give the reservation.

“Dalits also know that Mr Ramadoss got cabinet berths for Dalits MPs including Dalit Ezhilmalai and E. Ponnusami, elected from Chidambaram,” he said, while acknowledging it would not be an easy win for the BJP.“The outcome of the election will prove our case,” he said.Mr. Thirumavalavan, in a reply to this allegation, said that he failed to visit the constituency much as touring the State and other parts of the country in connection with issues directly concerning the oppressed. However, DMK strongman and Agriculture Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam said the VCK leader, after his election from the constituency, built a bridge between all communities. “Law and order has been restored and it has resulted in vibrant trading activities,” the Minister said.

Also in the fray is the NTK’s Era Jhansirani.

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